This paper presents a cost calculator for estimating the costs of different solar desalination options compared to incumbent technologies in Saudi Arabia. Solar desalination is defined as a desalination plant that obtains solar energy from a closed system, in order to isolate the investigation to desalination technologies, rather than the efficacy of replacing conventional energy sources with renewables in an integrated electricity grid. The results suggest that current options for closed system solar powered desalination are expensive compared to incumbent technologies: the cheapest solar desalination option estimated, Reverse osmosis (RO) Solar Concentrated Solar Panel (CSP) with water storage, is only competitive with conventional Grid Powered RO when fuel prices are above 132 USD/boe. Through disaggregating the costs of desalination, the paper offers insight into which aspects of solar powered desalination technologies must decrease to be economically competitive with incumbent desalination in Saudi Arabia.
Most renewable powered desalination schemes are hybrids that displace fossil fuel power when renewable power…6th August 2015